Mad March 2020 … But Spring Came Anyway

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Who’d have thought when we were tucking into our Christmas dinners with our loved ones, that three months later the majority of us would be confined to our homes, with schools, shopping centres, restaurants, gyms, parks etc closed, empty shelves in the supermarkets, no online shopping slots and not be able to find those little necessities we usually take for granted – loo roll or soap, anyone? – for love nor money. And that “social distancing” would become the temporary norm and a commonly used phrase.

Nope. I doubt any of us could have imagined this surreal situation that we and the whole world have found ourselves in due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Unbelievable isn’t it?

First and foremost, I hope you and your families are keeping safe and continue to do so.

It’s such a shame too for all the weddings and other parties and events that have had to be postponed. What an impact this is having on so many things!

Of course, along with everything else, for the time being, my photoshoots have been suspended, and at this time of writing, we have no idea when it will be deemed safe to start them again.

Luckily, I also have my Zazzle Print on Demand store which is keeping me sane through all this craziness! I am counting my blessings that I can continue to do what I love, working from home, as is the norm for me, and creating new designs and keeping my store up and running.  Strange though isn’t it, much as I adore working from home engrossed in my art and, in normal circumstances I have to drag myself away from my desk as I can’t get enough of it,  when you are being forced to stay indoors due to the current lockdown and isolation, all you want to do is get out and about!

How fortunate that we have apps like FaceTime and Zoom so we can virtually connect with our families and friends through all this, when we can’t physically get to see them. This week I am arranging a virtual “coffee morning” with my sister, and also an online get together with a group of friends, I expect with a glass of vino in our hands!  Obviously, we’ll be having lots of virtual meetups with our boys too.

I feel so much for some elderly folk, like my own mum. Not only do they have the extra worry of being in the most vulnerable category, many of them aren’t so internet savvy, or familiar with apps where they can use Facetime to speak to their loved ones, nor have access to things like Netflix to keep themselves occupied. Without being able to enjoy the same technology that lots of us use to entertain ourselves, even more so at the moment, boredom seeps in.

And heartfelt thanks to our doctors, nurses, care staff, emergency service workers, everyone working in the supermarkets and shops, postmen and delivery drivers and to anyone else playing a vital role right now, who are working so hard through this troubled time to keep us safe and fed and watered. Our Angels in Disguise for sure.

Dreadful as things are right now, I truly believe that positives will come from all of this and I know I am not alone in thinking along those lines.

Someone in the Zazzle forums posted a poem, which I found very uplifting with a very inspirational message.  

I believe it was originally written by an Italian journalist named Irene Vella. The version posted below was translated into Dutch from the original Italian language, and then from Dutch into English. So, I’m not quite sure how closely it resembles the original words and some of the lines aren’t grammatically correct once translated into English, but the sentiment remains.

I am going to include the whole poem below, even though it is long. But I think it’s so very beautiful and maybe just what we need right now.

May you find it as inspiring as I did. Take good care of yourselves 😊

BUT SPRING DIDN’T KNOW…

It was early 2020
Winter had been long and dark,
February had been a very restless month with lots of storms and lots of rain
Nature was restless, as if she wanted to tell people something,
as if she wanted to warn people about something

And then came March

It was March 2020…
The streets were empty,
most of the shops were closed,
most of the cars stayed parked on the side of the road,
people almost never left their homes, all over the world,
countries were locked,
people couldn’t believe this was happening,
it was so surreal
Everyone knew what was going on

But Spring… did not know
And the flowers started blooming
And the sun was shining
The first beautiful spring day since long arrived
And the swallows came back
And the sky turned pink and blue
It got dark later and early in the morning the light came through the windows


It was March 2020…
Youngsters studied online from home
Inevitably, children played mainly at home
Adolescents were bored, parents did not know what to do
People only came outside for shopping or to walk the dog
Almost everything was closed
Even the offices, hotels, restaurants and bars
The army began to guard exits and borders
People had to work from home
Entrepreneurs ran into problems
Most children were no longer able to go to school
Suddenly there was not enough room for everyone in hospitals, operations and investigations were postponed
Everyone knew what was going on

But Spring… did not know and it sprung
She imperturbably continued her annual program
She gave us her most beautiful flowers and her most wonderful scents

It was March 2020…
Everyone was quarantined at home for health or preventive reasons
Some people were no longer allowed to go to work, others had to
Hugging, kissing or shaking hands was suddenly a threat
Everyone had to keep a good distance from each other,
All sorts of shelves were empty in the supermarket
All kinds of fun things were canceled,
a lot of things had to end and nobody knew when that would pass
People were limited in their freedom while there was peace
All over the world, many people got sick and it was contagious
There was isolation, illness and panic
And then the fear became real!

And the days all looked the same
And the weeks suddenly lasted much longer
And everyone hoped that no more strict measures would follow
People were stuck in a movie and hoped for the hero every day
The world had slowed down when it wasn’t a vacation,
nobody expected this
Everyone knew what was happening

But Spring… did not know, and the roses continued to bloom
The Magnolia was budding
And the birds started building their nests


And then…

It was the year in which people recognized the importance of health and connection,
of togetherness,
of social contacts and perhaps also of their vocation,
this did something to the collective consciousness,
this did something with all people
The economy almost went under,
but it didn’t stop, it reinvented itself
It was the year when the world seemed to stop,
the year we would get into the history books together…
We all knew that

But Spring… did not know
And the flowers continued to bloom, and the trees sprouted
The weather was getting warmer
And more and more birds appeared

And then…Came the day of liberation…
People watched TV and were told… the emergency was over
And that the virus had lost!
That everyone had won TOGETHER!
And then everyone took to the streets…
With tears in their eyes…
Without masks and gloves…
Neighbours hugging as if they were brothers
And the world had become more beautiful and more loving
And people had become more humane
And they again had values ​​and norms
People’s hearts were open again,
which had positive consequences
And because everything had stood still, the earth could breathe again,
she too was healed of what people had done to her earlier

And then Summer came

Because Spring… didn’t know
And she was still there
Despite everything
Despite the virus
Despite the fear
Despite death
Because Spring didn’t know, everyone learned… the power of life

Loving Two “Babies” Equally?

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Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here even though you may have noticed fewer posts from me on Facebook of late. Read on and I will explain all!

As many of you know already, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising – but not at the expense of letting go of good customer service I hasten to add. So yes, I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service you are used to from me and, of course, deserve.

My time is split about 50/50, with a little leeway naturally where needs be. Hence, I only do studio photoshoots now on Sunday mornings and outdoor location shoots on Saturday mornings. I edit the images from these as soon as possible afterwards so I can get your galleries out quickly without keeping anyone waiting.

Once I know everyone has their pictures to look at, I devote the rest of the week to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

(Goes without saying that I deal with enquiries and orders for Romsey Fotografix regardless of when I get them!)

A little about Zazzle if you’ve not heard of them before. They’re a huge print on demand website and they do all manner of goodies – as you can see from their website. And here’s their story. As a designer, artist or photographer, or indeed anyone who wishes to, you easily set up a Zazzle store, or several stores if you want to. I just have the one store for now Fotografixgal Designs, as that keeps me plenty busy enough!  I also set up a separate website especially for it to help showcase the items in my store.  

There’s quite a complex strategy involved in running a Zazzle store, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers. She was running an offer at the time and I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I would never have discovered it all on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning). And the training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.

A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

OK, heading back to the subject of Facebook posting. As I do fewer shoots now, I have less photos from current sessions to post on Facebook and am therefore not posting every day or two, as I did at one time. And I don’t want to bombard you with too many Fotografixgal Design related posts as I guess you didn’t follow me on Facebook to see those 😉!!  Maybe just the odd one or two if you don’t mind lol. In the main though I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. To be honest, Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. And unless you pay for your posts to be promoted, they invariably only get shown to a small handful of your followers so it can be very soul destroying taking into consideration the amount of time and effort put into creating them. I’m not knocking it, because it’s obviously very useful and brilliant for connecting with your audience. As long as you stay in control of it and not let it take over at the expense of other things.

So please forgive me if I don’t post as often. However, I’m always very grateful when you give me permission to post pictures from your session as this allows me to showcase my work for others to see and also give you a little sneak peek and to share with your FB friends.

Another decision I have not taken lightly is to introduce a small booking fee for my studio photoshoots from August 2019. This won’t apply to outdoor shoots. I’ll only be taking one or two studio shoots a week on a Sunday and will request and pay for the studio as and when someone contacts me to book. This session fee is to safeguard me against late cancellations and no shows and cover my costs. I know I have never charged a session fee before as I didn’t feel it necessary when I had my own studio and was doing loads of shoots in a week, therefore I wasn’t out of pocket in the event of no shows. However, now if someone doesn’t show up on the day, which does happen sometimes, I won’t be able to fill that slot at that short notice and may even have turned other clients away for it, it’s just to ensure I’m not out of pocket. The good news is I’ll refund you the booking fee when your order comes to £150 or more.

You may also have seen that we have now photographed our last wedding as the official photographers.  I was going to tell you all about that in this post however as it’s already quite lengthy (haha sorry that’s not like me at all 😉 ), I’ll do a separate post shortly about the reasons behind our Wedding Swansong.

I truly hope you understand my decision to veer in a slightly new direction wearing my two different, yet complementary, hats. I am a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!

You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work. I have found my very Happy Place.

As ever, thank you so much for your support. It means the world to both Lee and I and we look forward to taking your next set of pictures!

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day 

anonymous quote (but oh so true!)

5 Undeniable Reasons to Love A Cup Of Positivity

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I have a sign by the bed which is probably the first thing I see when I wake up.

It simply says

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO SMILE

Nothing fancy, just those few words. But powerful none the less. A little bit of positivity for the start of my day.

Right. I put it out there – I’m a huge fan of inspirational quotes and messages. My Instagram feed is full of them and all sorts of goodies with different kinds of quotes on, from inspiring to funny, feature a lot in my Zazzle Store!

Methinks I’m not alone in this, judging by the number you see on social media, and on loads of items in shops wherever you go – from pillows to mugs, on clothing, fridge magnets, cards, notebooks, cosmetic bags, crockery, etc. etc. and of course posters and signs and wall art.

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Very popular. There’s something about emotive quotes that really draws you in, especially on any with words you personally resonate with.

How great for giving too! What better way to show you care than by sending someone a gift or card with a message of encouragement or positive vibes. Nothing like being told how great we are to make our day!

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So here’s what I reckon are the 5 undeniable reasons to Love a Cup of Positivity …

  • Brings The Feel Good Factor

When you feel good about yourself, it makes it simpler to feel positive about other things in life generally. Encouraging messages help you to believe in yourself more and therefor feel good about yourself.

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  • Creates a Positive Vibe

When you have a positive attitude – it’s catching! People around you respond to it, which in turn makes for a happier atmosphere around you which makes everything much more bearable to deal with.

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  • Helps to get us through Life’s Challenges

No one ever said it would be easy – nope! Life throws all sorts of stuff at us, both good and bad, sometimes it’s hard, even virtually impossible to stay positive through it all. It actually takes practice to keep positive and upbeat but truly worth it.

Absolutely

Obviously you can’t be happy about every situation but simply trying to find a positive from a negative situation, and possibly learn from it, will certainly help to make you feel better.

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  • Reminds us to feel grateful for what we have
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“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson

When I read  The Secret by Rhonda Byrne a couple of years ago, I got a lot from it. It was actually quite a turning point for me. I was inspired to set up a Law of Attraction Board on Pinterest.

One of the most important things I learned was to remind myself of all the things I have to feel grateful about every day.

Being grateful has a very profound and positive effect on the way we feel; it makes us more optimistic and kind, less judgemental, so just generally makes for a happier and kinder person to be around, which again, is contagious!

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  • Just Because

I guess they’re not for everyone, but there’s no denying inspirational quotes are hugely popular right now.  They can be amusing, emotional, encouraging; they virtually give us “permission” to be who or what we want to be so we can go ahead and just do it!

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As I see it, there can be no harm in spreading joy and comfort with kind, inspiring and motivational messages, whether it be on your social media sites, on presents you give, or just getting it out there on a T shirt!

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And if you fancy more of the same, I expect it won’t surprise you to know I’m always  Pinning inspiring words – Pinterest has millions!

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“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine”  Roy T. Bennett